We travel to West Brom on Saturday afternoon.
The prospect of a game against a Tony Pulis coached side is rarely one to set the pulse racing, unless you’re a fan of tree trunks attempting to play football that is. The Baggies’ season has been more stop than start so far but Pulis has yet to be deflected from his masterplan of trying to build Stoke City Mark II. Giant defenders, squat hard working midfielders, a couple of wingers and a big bloke up front. No doubt there are plenty of opportunities for long throw practice in training. Having said that, the Baggies have had two decent results in the past fortnight and given that Pulis’s brief was probably just to keep them up this season, maybe their fans aren’t too bothered by the style of football being played in their name.
The stature of many of their players means that they are primed to threaten us where we’re most vulnerable – in the air from set pieces. There’s no doubt that they will be slinging in high balls whenever they can. If we’re daft enough to give away free kicks in advanced, for them, positions then there’s no doubt that the Belgian twins, Dier and Lloris are going to be busy men.
Our back five and Kane pick themselves, Dier and Dembélé too meaning that assuming Mason, Bentaleb and Chadli are all unavailable, Eriksen, Son, Lamela and Alli are effectively fighting for three starting spots. It’s a tough one to call I think, you can make a case for any of them. Given that there’s likely to be a physical battle to be won it wouldn’t be a total shock to see Eriksen be given a rest with Son playing on the left, Alli in the middle and Lamela on the right but as I say, it’s anyone’s guess. The fact that Lamela and Alli are relatively rested may give them an edge.
West Brom are without Yacob, an important part of their midfield, but are otherwise at full strength. The first goal will be vital but they did come from behind against both Woolwich and the Hammers so it may not be conclusive.
Well-organised and high tempo, we can expect a battle. I’ve heard some people say that this is three points for the taking but this is far from the case. If we come out on top it’ll be because we’ve worked for it but assuming the Baku lead has now drained from the players’ legs hard work is something that we’re good at.
Harry scored a lovely and belting goal at the Hawthorns last season; anything similar this time round will be more than welcome.
Jonathon Moss is the referee.
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